Willow Lane Book “Travel” Box Review
Willow Lane Books is a new monthly subscription of books and gifts that last for three months. Every month, a themed book box arrives with one book and up to four gifts that you hand-pick from their website. You can even request a different book if you’re not feeling that month’s particular tome!
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
About Willow Lane Books
The Subscription Box: Willow Lane Books
The Cost: $32.99 a month + $9.99 shipping
The Products: 1 book + up to four gifts that you pick yourself!
Ships to: US and Worldwide
Good to Know: They are going on a brief hiatus as the company moves to another state. However, it looks like you can still purchase specific items (like books and collectibles) from the website’s shop here.
Willow Lane Books “Travel” 2018 Review
This box was actually a bit delayed because of Hurricane Florence. Sadly, one of the manufacturers of the items was affected by the flooding that occurred and it set back Willow Lane’s shipping of the box a little, but they were super-communicative about the issue and sent plenty of email updates, which I really appreciated. I’m also sad to say that they’re taking a break! I have really come to love getting the boxes from Willow Lane. We received an update that the company is moving to another state, and after the October boxes ship, they won’t be back until sometime in 2019. But, to the box at hand! This month’s theme is “Travel,” and I’m excited to report that I’ll actually be taking some trips next year, so hopefully these items will hold me over until Willow Lane returns. As per the usual Willow Lane emails, my choices this month were from this list:
- J.R.R. Tolkien Quote Poster Print
- Mark Twain Quote Mug
- Pocket Journal
- Whole Bean Coffee
- Tote Bag
- Hand Poured Camp Fire Story Candle by Willow Lane
I opted for the quote mug, pocket journal, whole bean coffee, tote, and hand-poured Camp Fire story candle, which is an item made exclusively by Willow Lane. Let’s take a look at these journey-worthy items!
Mark Twain Quote Mug
I have to say since it’s a travel box, I was a little surprised this wasn’t a tumbler! However, the quality of this mug is really nice, and I like this quote so much. Kindness really matters to me, in everything that I do, and I’m pumped to display this with my other mugs.
A natural choice for a travel box is a super-portable booklet to jot down thoughts and ideas! I’ve always liked this quote on the cover about travel, and the fabric cover seems really durable like it could stand up to being tossed around in my purse. I used to journal like a fiend when I was younger, and I’ve been really trying to get back into the habit now as an adult.
Whole Bean Coffee
A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have considered coffee beans to be a travel item, exactly, but I think that bringing along high-quality beans is actually a genius travel hack! What better way to bring along a piece of home than by bringing your favorite cuppa? These would be particularly helpful for work travel, where having creature comforts can make a big difference. As always, this yummy, chocolatey coffee blend arrived to me in whole bean form, allowing it to stay as fresh as possible until I grind it myself.
Normally I’m not a big person for quote items, but I always appreciate literary ones. This quote is from Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott, who over his career won a Nobel Prize in Literature and a MacArthur award, among other professional accomplishments! This bag is a great size and shape for my beloved library books, or for hauling supplies to craft night at a friend’s house.
Camp Fire Candle by Willow Lane
Ah, we’ve come to my favorite item of the box! This one has a pretty, unusual orange color, and the perfect smoky and sweet blend of campfire. One of my favorite smells in the world is this exact smell, so maybe I’m biased, but this item is a complete slam dunk for me.
This month’s given book was Death and Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon, and since it’s a two-book month, I ended up picking the second, but more on that in a bit! Beth Gutcheon is an American author, sharing my home state of Pennsylvania. A Harvard graduate, she’s been publishing novels since 1978. This book is 304 pages long and was published on February 21st, 2017.
Summary of the book from Amazon:
Retired New York City private school head Maggie Detweiler and her old friend, society matron Hope Babbin, are off on a weeklong vacation to Maine, to visit Hope’s son and attend a master cooking class at the picturesque Oquossoc Mountain Inn. The worst tragedy they anticipate is a boring fellow guest or a fallen soufflé.
But their quiet idyll is disrupted by the arrival at the inn of a boorish couple, Alexander and Lisa Antippas, and Lisa’s sister, Glory. Imperious Hollywood one-percenters, Alex and Lisa are also the parents of the latest pop sensation, teen icon Artemis. Discord enters with the family, closely followed by disaster. When a suspicious late-night fire at the inn is brought under control, Alex’s charred body is found in the ashes.
Enter the local deputy sheriff, Buster Babbin, who is Hope’s long-estranged son and a former student of Maggie’s. Buster needs a success, and Hope and Maggie, informed by a lifetime of observing human nature, coupled with a certain cynicism about small town justice and a healthy dose of curiosity, decide there is role for them to play here.
I feel as though I must mention first that the main characters being of retirement age, around their early sixties, was a different take for me, and I loved it. I imagined them being around my mom’s age, and thought she’d likely enjoy reading this, too! Even though there was some death, I would definitely still classify this as a cozy mystery. I liked the setting a lot because I haven’t spent much time in New England, and I enjoyed reading about some of the details. The story was slow to start but was related to a passion of mine: cooking! I loved reading about the food and found myself wanting to perfect my polenta recipe before the mystery even started.
I read online that fans of her previous books were a bit let down by this one. I had the benefit of this book being my first by her, so I was free of expectations and enjoyed reading it for the most part. I did think the supporting characters were a tiny bit thin, if I’m being honest, and fell into some common tropes. There were a lot of people to keep track of, and I was pretty far into the book before I realized the identity of the key figures in the story. That being said, the latter half of the book was more interesting, and I have to give the author a lot of credit for her, ahem, interesting choice of murder weapon.
I actually chose this book on my own; as always, you can shop in the Willow Lane store and swap out the reads, so I opted for this YA-esque murder mystery as my second book. It’s 368 pages long and was published on February 16th, 2016.
Summary from Amazon:
Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information. . . . Could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?
At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus—the artist, the screw-up, the boy she might be falling for—have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night . . . who could it have been?
It’s written in the first person, present tense, and for some reason, the present tense has an immediacy that held my interest in ways that other present-tense books have not in the past. As the reader, you jump into Sonia’s mind just after the main inciting action of the story, only getting details in bits and pieces as the book progresses. There’s violence, but I didn’t think it was particularly graphic or gory, and it wasn’t glorified in any way, which I appreciated.
Many people noticed a “Twin Peaks” vibe to the story, and while I appreciated the homages that were placed within, but in my opinion, it just simply wasn’t weird enough to have as much Lynchian influence as people wanted to think. This book was also slow to get started, and I felt that there were a few cliches throughout. For instance, the main character wanting to be around people immediately after a profound trauma was played off as a unique character reaction, but I’ve seen that in other stories before. The very end of this book definitely packed the most punch and made up for the slower start at the beginning.
I was delighted to discover one more gift in my box this month – this adorable Funko! It’s no secret that I am obsessed with iZombie; I’m so sad this upcoming season is the last. It was such a sweet and thoughtful touch for them to include this in the box, and I was so excited to put this in my collectibles room immediately upon opening it!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Sadly, no. They’re taking a break until next year! Their normal cutoff was the 15th of the month for the next month’s box, but we’ll see if their policies change in 2019.
Value Breakdown: This box cost $32.99 + $9.99 shipping, which means each of the 8 items in the box have an average cost of about $5.37.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What was your favorite item from Willow Lane?